Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA – Today, The Billfish Foundation (TBF), the world’s leading sportfishing conservation organization for marlin, sailfish, spearfish and associated highly migratory fish, is celebrating its 30th Anniversary and is announcing the winners of its prestigious Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award – Captain Kelvin “Red” Bailey, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Captain Ernie Foster, Hatteras, North Carolina and Bonnie Powell, Brandon, Florida. The Award is named in honor of the late John Rybovich, a pioneer in billfish conservation and sportfishing vessel design. Award presentations will be made during TBF’s annual gala, held this year on Friday, November 4, 2016 at the Harbor Beach Marriott resort on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida.
Captain Kelvin “Red” Bailey, of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, began sportfishing when famous Captain Tommy Gifford offered him, as a 19 year old, a mate’s job saying “if you’re interested son, you can start tomorrow.” Red started and 52 years later continues to show up tomorrow. Following his time with Gifford, Red worked for Johnny Harms during which he earned his captain’s license allowing him to take charter clients fishing, including Dr. Lyman and Nancy Spire. Before long, Red worked for the Spires as captain of their Abigail II and their custom built Abigail III, now the oldest local charter boat on the island and owned by Red Bailey. Throughout his career Red encouraged tag and release and the use of single hooks – the Red Bailey lure by Mold Craft contains only one hook. In a Marlin Magazine interview, he noted that in the “early days” he found anglers were “more interested in the skill of sportfishing rather than catching the most fish.” He remains a promoter of the sport in the Caribbean, serving as President of the Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club’s Board of Directors, and has said he would like to be remembered as “someone who worked to ensure that sportfishing would be around for future generations to enjoy.” Today, Red’s son, Kelvin Bailey Jr., is a charter captain and one who gave him a member of the “next generation,” a grandson who will enjoy offshore fishing one day.
Captain Ernie Foster of Hatteras, North Carolina, grew up on boats fishing in the family’s charter business, the Albatross Fleet. His father, Capt. Ernal Foster, one might say launched charter fishing in the region in 1937 when he began charging anglers to take them fishing; others laughed. In the early 1950s when his boat landed a 451 pound blue marlin, the Dare County’s first public relations specialist was present and took photos. When those photos spread worldwide, Hatteras was on the map as a hot spot for offshore fishing. Ernie’s brother was the first in the region to have clients request the release of a giant blue marlin, which he did. Today, Ernie runs the Albatross III while managing the Albatross Fleet and its 250 charters a year. Having witnessed significant changes in fishing, in government regulations and changes in the abundance of many fish species, Ernie finds it necessary to take an active role with fishery management issues. And, when some situations pit commercial fishing and recreational fishing against one another in his community, that is when Ernie most likely finds his earlier professional experience as a guidance counselor most useful. Ernie views his community of Hatteras as a “fishing community” first, for each person there depends on fishing either directly or indirectly – a way of life Foster wants to see continue for all Hatteras residents.
Bonnie Powell of Brandon, Florida started fishing at a young age, including fishing the Tampa Tarpon Tournament year after year. Once married to her late husband, Captain Billy Powell, they, along with their boys, fished in Bimini, where Bonnie caught a blue marlin that placed in a tournament. Her fishing skills also have earned her two world records fishing with light tackle. After joining the International Women’s Fishing Association (IWFA), an organization founded in 1955 by female anglers, Bonnie became very active within the group. A perfect fit for Bonnie, who, like all the other members, loves to fish, practice responsible fishing techniques, support conservation and raise funds for college scholarships. Bonnie served on IWFA’s Board, as its President (1991 – 1993), was presented its Ann Kunkle Memorial Sportsmanship award in 1999 and was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame (2000). Bonnie now serves as the Executive Secretary of the International Light Tackle Tournament Association (ILTTA), once an all male fishing group, where she coordinates participation in an annual light tackle release tournament hosted by member clubs in different locations. ILTTA promotes sportfishing, camaraderie, conservation and good fishing practices. Bonnie also provides radio services for The Masters Angling Tournament, for the Ocean Reef Cup, and for the Stuart Sailfish Club’s Light Tackle Tournament. Bonnie is also known for her delightful “people skills.”
Please join TBF in congratulating winners on their lifetime achievement awards and have fun celebrating TBF’s 30th anniversary of advancing billfish conservation worldwide. TBF is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization created in 1986 by anglers to insure healthy stocks of fish and great sportfishing opportunities worldwide.